Unless unbeknownst to me, Lake Bell’s charming In A World is the first film to explore the occupation of voice-over artists. Living in the shadow of her self-absorbed father Sam Sotto (the king of movie-trailer voice-overs played by Fred Melamed), Carol Solomon (Bell) is a hardworking vocal coach with a hidden desire to make it as big-time vocal actress. Her lucky break, in a profession that is consistently partisan to male voices, comes after she lands a small job. With the assistance of Louis (Demetri Martin), the sound engineer, that small gig rapidly escalates into a evolving career.
Bell’s directorial debut, which she also wrote, tackles gender stereotypes head on with her feminist leading character. But In a World isn’t designed to be didactic or preachy. The social commentary on sexism in the workplace is diffused by Bell’s witty, self-deprecating style of comedy. That humour is exponentially improved by a uniformly funny cast. Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins play a married couple Carol seeks out for help while Ken Marino supports as a goofy, ultra-competitive colleague.
In a World seems to stray off the beaten path in the right way, defying general character conventions. The naturally paced romance that forms between Carol and Louis is just one example of Bell’s debut exhibiting originality in the face of Hollywood consumeri sm. Equally endearing and light-hearted, this may end up being a game-changer for Lake Bell, highlighting not only her flare for the hilarious, but her creativity behind the scenes.